Abstract Possible

ES / EN

Maria Lind, curator of the exhibition talks about the line of research within the project related to formal abstraction.

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Maria Lind: I think it’s important to connect abstraction with related terms such as opacity and hermeticism, because I think this project moves within a field which is occupied by all these phenomena, so of course you can trace the roots back to the classical avant garde and that’s really important, but at the same time there are also other strategies, that are somehow abstract, but perhaps closer to being opaque or hermetic. I, like many others have noticed that a lot of work within contemporary art has been using such strategies and such formal expressions, since the nineties basically.  And I was curious to look into what this actually is, and I think that quite a lot of the formal abstraction, and I’m now thinking know about the geometric abstraction, that has come about after let’s say 2000, is more to do with lifestyle, is more to do with adopting a certain style from the classical avant garde, using it in work without really paying attention to or being interested in the legacy of why such a very particular language was developed at that point in time, you know in Europe, in the twenties particularly. I am less interested in that sort of lifestyle approach and often it’s been paintings, and often they have been nicely sized to fit into living rooms and they have been very successful commercially in galleries. Having said that, Dough Ashford’s work in this exhibition is precisely small, geometric, abstract paintings, tempera on wood, absolutely exquisite, jewel-like paintings, that you just want to almost drown in when you start looking at them. In his case I was fascinated by the fact that somebody who is known for his engagement with social practice type work, meaning his engagement with group material in New York, the collaborative group that was active between ‘79 and ‘96 and which really promoted a different way of working where imagery of visual culture was mixed with art works, where the institutional gallery space was far from the only or even most relevant space for art they migrated into public space, into the city, into the subway, etc. Somebody like him, who had also such a clear activist political commitment to work, started to retreat into a studio, into solitary activity, painting these small works. What was that all about? And having looked at the work and having talked to him, I found it extremely pertinent what he is doing, because his first small abstract paintings came out of diagrams, diagrams of people in the New York art world, who were involved with some form of activist practice. This is central to the project as a whole because the diagrams as a form of representation is at the core of abstraction. So, in his case we have that crucial leap from the socially, politically engaged, collaborative practice, into something which is formal abstraction.

 

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